FROM THE EDITOR: November 2007

January 16, 2008
Written by
The importance of Section 12.  "Having a unified voice, with stable funding, is crucial to industry’s future."
ne longtime industry goal in Ontario may soon be realized. We’re hoping the goal of a unified voice is indeed achieved.

Flowers Canada (Ontario) is in the final stages of its application to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, under Section 12 of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Act, to be recognized as the representative association for greenhouse floriculture growers in the province. The vote is expected early next year.

FCO has posted an excellent and comprehensive factsheet on its website, and all growers in the province should take the time to read it. A few key points include:

• “Section 12 describes how a group of producers in Ontario may request that an association of producers be designated as the representative association for all producers in Ontario. It does NOT impart a regulated marketing function.”

• “A floriculture producer will be defined as a grower of greenhouse floriculture plants and plant materials, including propagative materials. For greater certainty, this definition means cut flowers, potted plants or bedding plants grown in whole or in part in a greenhouse … and not intended for food medicines (such as herbs), or nursery stock.”

• Nursery stock producers aren’t included. “There is a specially worded exemption for nursery stock, perennials or biennials grown for planting into the soil outdoors.”

Any floriculture grower with less than 20,000 square feet will not be mandated to pay the fee or be required to vote.

The Ontario industry is large and growing, and its challenges are large and growing. The industry has a $2.7 billion impact on the provincial economy, and has enjoyed considerable success in domestic and export markets.

The fees would be two cents per square foot for those growers with 20,000 square feet or more of greenhouses. Based on 50 million square feet, revenues of some $1 million per year would be generated. Beyond funding the association, these levies would be a clear signal to the government that the sector is serious about dealing with its challenges, and that should translate into greater attention from Queen’s Park. The province spends a lot of money on agriculture, but without a recognized industry-wide association, we’re not sure floriculture has always received its fair share.

Having a unified voice, with stable funding, is crucial to industry’s future. It will ensure greater access to government officials and funding programs. It will provide continuity in programming to ensure border, pest management, labour, regulatory, energy, etc., issues are dealt with proactively and reactively. It will mean all benefiting producers will share in the costs.

We hate to contemplate a no vote. It would hobble the current activities being carried out on behalf of all Ontario growers. It would limit long-range planning and programming. What if grants that are funding many of the projects dry up?

We choose to be optimistic, and believe growers will support this initiative. This is an investment in their future. n

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